L.A. Lakers in real trouble if they strike out this summer

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l.a. lakers

If the L.A. Lakers don’t make a huge splash this free agent summer, they could be in real trouble as a franchise. Los Angeles landed in the lottery for the first time since anyone could ever remember and what they have to show for it is a player who’s upside, ultimate best case scenario is Zach Randolph. That’s all the L.A. Lakers can truly expect from Julius Randle.

Not that it’s such a bad turn of events or anything, but this team needs more. It needs pieces badly. And with all of that money tied up in an aging Kobe Bryant, there’s not cap space to work with on a team where almost nobody is signed I seriously doubt Pau Gasol goes anywhere, but if he does than the Lakers are in big trouble. They’re the only team in the NBA that doesn’t have a coach.

It’s after 4th of July and they still don’t even have a head coach!

l.a. lakers

Here to discuss some L.A. Lakers situation, as well as the NBA silly season in general, is Don Ellis. You can hear our take on all this and more by clicking the podcast below. Following the podcast, we mapped out the Lakers depth chart and salary situation on the current roster. We take this into account when previewing what will happen in L.A. once the league’s official signing period begins on July 10th.

Los Angeles Lakers (27-55 last year)

2014-15 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Robert Sacre
PF: #Ryan Kelly
SF: #Kent Bazemore
SG: Kobe Bryant/^Nick Young
PG: Steve Nash/*Kendall Marshall

NBA Free Agents:
C-Pau Gasol (UFA)
PF-Jordan Hill (UFA)
SF-Xavier Henry (UFA)
C-Chris Kaman (UFA)
SG-Jodie Meeks (UFA) (signed with the Detroit Pistons)
SF-Wesley Johnson (UFA)
PG-Jordan Farmar (UFA)
SG-MarShon Brooks (UFA)
#PF-Ryan Kelly (RFA)
#SG-Kent Bazemore (RFA)
^SG-Nick Young (PO)
*PG-Kendall Marshall (TO)

2014-15 Team Salary: approximately $35.3 million

kobe bryant pau gasol

Team Needs:
1. Another Star:
If Kobe’s recent injury issues aren’t enough to scare you, how about the fact that he will be 36 years old by the start of the season. Even if he does return at 100%, you cannot expect the 27 points per night Kobe to re-emerge. Therefore, the Lakers need to find another star capable of being the alpha dog and they have the cap space to do so.

Carmelo Anthony’s name will certainly be linked to the Lakers in free agency and expect L.A. to come up in trade speculation with some of the best available players. Expect the team to be very active this off-season with their cap space and trying to swing a deal or two to add some veteran pieces in hopes of making one last ditch effort at getting Kobe another ring.

Maybe this video has an answer:

2. A frontcourt:
Robert Sacre is the lone post player under contract for next season so, yeah, the Lakers have to find some bodies inside. Unless Pau Gasol is willing to take a hometown discount, the franchise might be best off letting him walk. If L.A. ends up keeping the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, forwards like Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon of Arizona, and Indiana’s Noah Vonleh should all be targets. Still, the team needs to find some veterans who can come in and contribute right away.


3. Defense:
As one would expect from a Mike D’Antoni coached club, defense was practically non-existent for the Los Angeles Lakers this past season as they allowed the second most points in the league. The aging Kobe and Steve Nash form a susceptible defensive backcourt so finding a rim protector and lockdown perimeter defender who can take some of the pressure off Kobe will be essential to the team’s turnaround.

4. Coaching Stability:
The last two hires of Mike Brown and Mike D’Antonio haven’t exactly panned out so perhaps it is time to look in a different direction. Derek Fisher seems to be the hot name on the coaching search and the former Laker would make sense even though he is not technically retired yet. Other names have been floated around like Kurt Rambis and Alvin Gentry but those types of coaches have failed elsewhere and seem to be more of a short-term fix than long-term solution.

For more L.A. Lakers off-season analysis, check out our team needs page.

Don Ellis started covering sports professionally when he was 15. He attended Ball State University, and some of his past credits include InsideHoops (columnist) and ESPN Florida (The Florida Sports Reporters, SportsCenter anchor). In addition to running Bullsville.net and writing for The Sports Bank and ChicagoNow (Bullsville), he is also a KHSAA baseball umpire. Follow Don on Twitter @Bullsville and like Bullsville on Facebook.

Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports and Yahoo! The Postgame. He’s been a guest on news talk shows all across the world. Banks has been featured in numerous media outlets including NFL.com, Forbes, Bleacher Report, Deadspin, ESPNNBC, the History Channel and more. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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  1. TexasSportsFan says:

    The Lakers are rebuilding. They don’t expect to be competing for a championship next season unless by some miracle LeBron & Melo decide to come to LA. This is not some new phenomenon. It happens to all teams sooner or later, and it’s not the end of the world. The Lakers will probably add at least one good player before next season and will have lots of cap space in the next two years when there will be a lot of top talent available.

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